As we get further out from the WNBA All-Star festivities that were held in Chicago, I find myself a little annoyed with how things were handled. I personally had a good time, but there were enough issues in terms of fan accessibility that left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. There's room for better, and we should all strive and root for better.
In the context of striving for better, there's been plenty of conversation around how The W can improve its weekend festivities. Announcing the actual participants of the Skills Challenge and Three-Point Shootout earlier would help; inviting players that aren't already planning to be there — there's no reason Sparks guard Lexie Brown, shooting 44.2% from three on 4.0 attempts per game, shouldn't have been in the contest — would also be nice!
The conversation has gone bigger-picture now. A common ask gaining more steam publicly: Hosting All-Star weekend in Las Vegas — home of the Las Vegas Aces — while overlapping with Summer League play.
Would love to see the WNBA All-Star Game regularly played in Las Vegas during the first weekend of the NBA Summer League. The WNBA All-Star Game would take centerstage the first Saturday or Sunday with NBA All-Stars, rookies and execs courtside, supporting their favorite players.— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) July 10, 2022
There were some pretty big co-signers on that suggestion from Arash Markazi. He got an "I like this take" response from New York Liberty star Sabrina Ionescu. Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James quote tweeted with "Such a great idea!!!!!!" to his near-52 million followers. Aces star Kelsey Plum was asked about the idea during a segment on ESPN's "NBA Today" on Friday, and she offered her support.
"I'm a little bit biased, obviously, because I'm in Vegas," Plum begins. "But I think it would be a tremendous idea."
"We understand that summer and basketball is Las Vegas. We have Summer League; there are a bunch of AAU tournaments for boys and girls. Coaches meet up there. A lot of teams do training camp out there. So I think, why not have a basketball mecca in Vegas every summer, highlighting the best female athletes in the world? I can't think of a better opportunity, and I know the Aces — specifically [owner] Mark Davis — would support that heavily."
The following day, the WNBPA Twitter account shared its support of Plum's statement with a quote-tweet of their own.
While I truly understand the sentiment, it's hard for me to get past the optics of using All-Star weekend as an appetizer for Summer League.
Rolling with the "opening weekend" idea from Markazi, that would fall within the window of top prospects playing. We normally see the lottery picks play for the first two games, sometimes three games, before getting shut down. Would the NBA be willing to schedule the "marquee matchups" later in the evening to clear out blocks for those events?
Even if that's doable, again, think of what that message is. For a league still trying to improve its reputation, having the NBA say, "Let's make sure the Keegan Murray-Chet Holmgren matchup is at 7 p.m. Pacific time so The W has room to showcase literal legends of the sport" just seems... off to me.
That's no disrespect to any of the NBA's top five picks; they just don't, or shouldn't, hold more weight than Sylvia Fowles, Sue Bird and potentially Candace Parker playing in their last All-Star games. They don't hold more weight than those three, period.